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Everything Changes part 2

Santa Gordon

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Everything Changes.

I advise people that work in the entertainment business as performers to learn to adapt to the current Environment. By that I mean you look at the opportunities available to you in your area of operation and then look at how this can be made to work for you. In the previous (rambling) blog on this subject I used my school as an example of how I used this idea when in competition with other schools and education opportunities. Since that is still an experiment I will give another example.

Back in the late 80s I had been a clown for 7 years and felt I knew everything there was to know about this business. (Boy, was I wrong!) An opportunity came to me from a housing developer/builder. They were looking for a Clown Sign waver at several properties for the weekends about 6 hours a day Sat and Sun. This is way back when min wage  was far lower than now and so was prices on all manner of consumables like 260Q balloons being less than $3.00 a bag of 144, Gasoline well under $2 a gallon and just about everything else was a lot lower.

The offer was $25 an hour for 12 hours a weekend and the run was for 3 months. The problem was the length of time to collect the balance due and operating costs. My decision was to become an agent of sorts. I would take the regular weekend work sporadic as it was to have cash coming in and I paid friends $15 an hour to dress up and wave the sign. I paid them weekly every Tuesday out of the earnings I made working private party and lived close to the bone for that first month.  They were happy to make $180 a weekend and I kept the account until their payroll dept started to really drag out the payment for work performed.  I looked at the situation again and decided to farm the job over to a reputable agency I had worked for for 5 years by this time.

This lead to me working for $15 an hour when called upon by the agent but I was paid every Monday like clockwork. Kitty (the agent) had the contract expand to cover as many as 8 different locations every weekend for several years but because she had deeper pockets and more cash flow from other projects she could keep those contracts satisfied and make money. I also worked other venues making more than the basic $15 an hour each weekend over this time but covered the gig for Kitty when she needed another body.

So instead of trying to keep the contract I choose to pass it on to a friend in the business who expanded the venue making work for several other friends, improved my position with in the agency when the choice came up for who was provided for higher paying jobs and maintained a good relationship with the developer to this day.

I looked over the options available, weighed the Pros and Cons of each and decided the path that held the best benefit to me for the next 30 years. 

Second example

Again as a clown, I had a Major competitor that was going head to head with me over all the work in the area! It seemed to always come down to one or the other of us would win the contract no matter from where it came.

I had several options.
I could undercut her price and make less money but land more jobs. In essence work more to make the same.
I could demand the agents use only me and that would likely end my relationship with those agencies and cut of those streams of income.
I could meet with her (Curly the Clown) and see if we could not work something out between us.

That turned out to be another 30+ year good choice. My friend Becky (Curly the Clown) and I worked many venues together as agencies realized we were a good team. We networked together adding other friends from the business as time went by.This increased the earnings for both of us in part because we could command more money through the various agencies and when one or the other had a gig on their own we worked together to fill the job.

Third example

I became a Santa in 1980 simply because it is a slow time for Clowns and Magicians and the agent I was working for under a very strong "Non-competition" contract looked at me and said
"You're a big guy! Here put this suit on!" and I became Santa. No training, no knowledge of the role other than the Ranking Bass television movies. To say the least I was most likely the worst Santa you could ask for but that was my start.  My first 15 years of being Santa as a designer beard saw me improve in appearance, knowledge and fees I could command from the agencies that asked for my services. I might have associated with as many as 8 other Santas during that time but only in passing when we bumped into each other in the various agency offices.They were not very social and I did not think about that aspect in regards to this branch of entertainment.

Then I received a call from a good friend and agent in 95 telling me about a group of Santas that actually got together off season in January to share stories of visits and network together. Only thing is,they were all real beard performers.  I said, "Gina, I don't have a beard!"  to which she told me "Grow one!"

Well in 95 I started growing my beard and was a presentable "M on 34th ST." Santa that first year. Because I was RBS, the agencies paid e more. Because I was exposed to the experiences of other Santas my learning curve went vertical. I made many relationships that I network with to this day and made several very good friends that to this day remain close in spirit if not in distance. Tim Connaghan, John Dore, Steve Eastis, Stephen Arnold, Bob McMasters, Ron Vedder, Bo Turner, Jonathan Rich,Tom Cortemeglia, Robert Tatangelo, Ron Breach, Don White, Spangle the Clown, Bob Bulick, Thomas Carmody, Robert Baxt, Keith Alton, J. Paul Raines, Morgan Putnam Robert Seutter, Ed Taylor, Larry Shaw, John Breen. John Davis Williams and many many more too numerous to list have become in person, real life friends over the course of the last 24 years since I became involved with large social groups formed around Santas now politically correctly called Christmas season workers/performers. All mentioned and not mentioned are friends that stay in touch across the country and then there are the people I have only met through social media.  Such as Robin Black, Ian Loxton and Carlo Clemm to name just a few.

Social Media or real life, all have made a positive impression on me in my life and not only enriched my  life but remain friends to today.

Just an example of  how networking and sharing with others can make a big difference in your business and life. Of how you approach business and life in your choices canmake you not only far better off financially but richer in personal relations.


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